George Geftakys attaches a special significance to this word. According to him, by "taking the place of sonship" we gain eternal glory and privileged participation in the "life of deity".
G. Geftakys begins by telling us that God needs a vessel to express His all-varied wisdom and so he formed the church. As the church "fellowships the mystery" it expresses God's eternal purpose. To George it is not the "universal" or "invisible" church where it is all happening, but it is happening in the "local church". George on several occasions described this as an inverted pyramid where all of heaven looks in on the local assembly to see what God is doing. George thinks of the "local assembly" as a stage where God's people put on a fabulous performance for principalities and powers in heavenly places to see.
"God is teaching angels by the great drama of the incarnation, the crucifixion, the resurrection and the continuance of that drama in the life of the redeemed" (Jesus is the Son of God, chapter 2, "The Son of the Father", page 35).
Even though we never see Paul describing the church's fellowship and worship as a "dress rehearsal", a "drama", or a "production", yet George assures us that
"...the real production is yet to come. He is preparing us for something that is exceedingly great... The greatest part of salvation is yet to come. He is preparing us for a great cosmic drama, something of such celestial significance that it exceeds the imagination," (Jesus is the Son of God, chapter 6, "The Purpose in the Son", page 108).
And what might that great cosmic drama be? George unmistakably states that the cosmic drama will be the enthronement and exaltation of "overcoming" believers before mighty, seraphic, celestial beings.
"...seraphic, celestial beings are going to rise and cast their crowns at the feet of a man" (Jesus is the Son of God, chapter 5, "The Revelation of the Son", page 94).
Notice the word "man" here is in lower case. It is not just "the man, Christ Jesus" that is meant but a new humanity ("a new man in Christ") that will be exalted.
"If we are faithful to walk worthy of our calling, one day we will reign with the Son of God," (Jesus is the Son of God, chapter 6, "The Purpose in the Son", page 109).
This great cosmic event will come about only as the members in a "local church" faithfully live out (or "embody") the life of Christ. There is a "dress rehearsal" going on right now in the local church. After much preparation and exercise in a local assembly, God will allow the "overcomers" in this local assembly to make up His new humanity and even be brought into "the communion of deity."
"This could not have been possible before the eternal Son of God forever united deity with humanity by taking on the form of a man. For all eternity there will be a man at God's right hand... As 'the last Adam,' the Lord Jesus is the head of a new humanity -- 'a man in Christ' ...
Since God is Spirit, we had to be infused with the Spirit of God to be able to enter into the life of God... Not only does He want to introduce us to God and tell us who God is, but He wants to bring us into a new life, a new fellowship, into the communion of deity," (Jesus is the Son of God, chapter 5, "The Revelation of the Son", page 84-85).
George could probably be a lot clearer here in his use of the term "communion of deity", but he does seem to be saying that Christ will bring us into "deity". As you consider the following, ask yourself, where is "redeemed man" in all this?" There seems to be only two choices: "the nature of fallen man" and "the nature of deity".
"...there are two distinct natures in this universe, each incompatible with the other... We see the nature of fallen man and the nature of deity... Between us and God there is fixed a great gulf, which cannot be traversed by fallen man. Jehovah had to bridge that chasm and make a way for us out of darkness and death, into the light and life of His eternal presence.
This He did through His beloved Son, who dealt with that which separated us from Himself -- our sins (Is. 59:2). This God did that we might dwell with Him forever... During the short time between going to His Father and coming again, He is forming within us a nature that will be compatible with the divine presence...
He is bringing us into a new life, into communion and fellowship with the triune Godhead. In order to be compatible with that divine character, we must have a new life and character," (Jesus is the Son of God, chapter 7, "The Name of the Son", pages 116-117).
The Son right now is "forming within us a nature compatible with that divine character". Certainly the "nature of fallen man" will not be in the presence of God, and since there is no third choice ("redeemed man") apparently the new humanity will possess "the nature of deity". Does this mean that the new humanity will become absorbed into deity? Or is this the addition of a "fourth personality" into the Godhead? Probably by design George leaves it up to us to figure out just what he means. Here is a similar confusing statement.
"This is the reality of eternal life, and this life is part of the divine community. The Son leads us into the divine life that He has with the Father -- the life of deity, the life of the Godhead," (Jesus is the Son of God, chapter 3, "The Fellowship of His Son", page 49).
How do we become "enthroned" and enter into the "life of deity"? George has been telling us how all along, but the final chapter is quite explicit.
In summary, we must "live the very life of Christ" (page 131), preparing and training ourselves each day for "enlargement of capacity" (page 139). We must do the equivalent of what Christ did. Only then will God enthrone and exalt us. Only by a perfect life of obedience, obeying all the commandments of God, will we possess this glorious inheritance.
"This is not automatic... Sonship is for all believers, but all believers do not avail themselves of this privilege," (Jesus is the Son of God, chapter 8, "The Faith of the Son", page 137).
But isn't this supposed to be why Christ came in the first place -- to live a sinless life and to give up that perfect life as a spotless sacrifice so that we might be declared righteous before God? Why is it necessary for us to repeat what Christ has already done? Instead, according to George, we are to live a sinless life and even die on the cross in order to receive a glorious inheritance as Christ did. Why is Christ's life of obedience and death on the cross necessary at all? Christ, then, did not actually save sinners. Christ is only an example of how it ought to be done. Christ only made salvation possible for us; we must achieve our own salvation through self-effort, following Christ's example.
It is as if Christ has restored us to the original state of Adam. And as Adam was tested in his original state, so now we will be tested to see what we will do with our new-found privileges and subsequent glory. Christ simply made "boundless resources" available to us, but we must use those resources. Grace is not simply God's attitude towards sinners, but a "substance" that we must "appropriate" in order to be "enthroned" now and in that great cosmic event. It all depends on us. Of course, George will assert "it is all by grace", but that grace is impotent until we make use of it. God helplessly stands by until we claim it.
We now see what George means by "sonship". Local assemblies ("houses of sons, houses of priests, houses of tremendous cosmic authority") must forcefully "take the place of sonship" in order to realize "eternal glory" and "the life of deity".Back to top
Here are the complete quotations which this article is based. Notice (especially in the next section) how George confuses “having fellowship with God” with “having the nature of deity”.
According to I John 2:1, this Judge has such compassion for our condition, which He has experienced, that He has become our Advocate with the Father. But Christ wants to do more than justify us before the throne of God; He wants to unite us with Himself so that we can experience all the love and joy that the Father and the Son share in the Godhead. This could not have been possible before the eternal Son of God forever united deity with humanity by taking on the form of a man. For all eternity there will be a man at God’s right hand.
As “the last Adam,” the Lord Jesus is the head of a new humanity – “a man in Christ.” “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Cor. 5:17). This “recreation” is a spiritual rebirth. Since God is Spirit, we had to be infused with the Spirit of God to be able to enter into the life of God. As children of Adam, this could never happen, but Jesus Christ, as the Son of man, could communicate that life to us. “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening [life-giving] spirit” (I Cor. 15:45).
He came from God. Not only does He want to introduced us to God and tell us who God is, but He wants to bring us into a new life, a new fellowship, into the communion of deity. Referring to John 16:27-28 we read, “For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God,” or literally, “I came forth from alongside the Father.” He always was beside the Father. When He came and unfolded and unveiled the Father, He was unveiling fellowship with God. No longer do we have to live our lives alienated from men and women and in constant rebellion to and separation from God. The Lord Jesus came that we might have abundant life, a life of fellowship with the Father and with the Son.
The Son’s walk with men was a demonstration that it is possible to live in divine communion, love and intimacy with God. To believe that He is the Son of God is to believe that He came to expound the Father and His infinite love; it is to believe that He came to make a way for us to enter into divine communion. Because He gave us His life, we can walk with the Father even as He did. “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full” (I John 1:3-4). In John 17:8 we read, “For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.”
Only He whose name is “I AM,” the eternal God, who has all the resources of His omnipotent deity available to Him could have come to our rescue. To understand this, we need to see first that there are two distinct natures in this universe, each incompatible with the other. In John 7:33-36 we read, “Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me. Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come. Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? Will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles and teach the Gentiles? What manner of saying is this that he said, Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come?” We see the nature of fallen man and the nature of deity in these words, “Where I am, thither ye cannot come.” Between us and God there is fixed a great gulf, which cannot be traversed by fallen man. Jehovah had to bridge that chasm and make a way for us out of darkness and death, into the light and life of His eternal presence. This He did through His beloved Son, who dealt with that which separated us from Himself – our sins (Is. 59:2). This God did that we might dwell with Him forever.
Referring to John 14:2-3 we see the purpose of His going to the Father: “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” During the short time between going to His Father and coming again, He is forming within us a nature that will be compatible with the divine presence.
The gospel of John tells us that He is bringing us into a new life, into communion and fellowship with the triune Godhead. In order to be compatible with that divine character, we must have a new life and character. We must come to the Savior because He is the Son of the Father, and He wants to usher us into a new sphere of fellowship. It is something far more than, “Come to Jesus and you’ll be successful in life. Come to Jesus and your marriage will be harmonious.” We are not coming to a psychiatrist! We are coming to a Savior! He wants to bring us into the circle of divine fellowship. “Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: (John 14:11). He wants to bring us into this same kind of communion.
John tells us how we enter into that communion: “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed” (John 8:31). If we are going to walk in discipleship, fellowship and service to Christ we need to continue in His Word. If we want to be where He is, we need to believe on His name and allow His Word to change us into His image. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is,” [italics added] (I John 3:2).
Comments from readers:
Dave K.: "I was lying in bed the other night and it just clicked, though I had these ideas before, just not so clear. We were the "testimony to Jesus"; as such, all the rights and privileges of Christ were conferred upon the Assembly. Therefore, the Assembly could expect total, unquestioning loyalty and take a higher priority than family, career, finances, etc, as we progress to the nirvana of a deified church. We fed on mystical experiences, the spiritual things we did, and the pride they engendered, as opposed to finding Christ in the living out of our lives here on earth.
""This is extremely helpful to be aware of, because all the subtle and subsidiary ways of false thinking are much easier to recognize once you have grasped the big picture. And it certainly clears away any false guilt about leaving the assembly. I think for many people it will take time and be difficult to face the full extent of the darkness that we were absorbed in. I think it can also be difficult for some people to hear quotes from George, like a helicopter over head can bring back painful memories to a Vietnam veteran, but direct quotes are also essential to establish the case."